The release of the self-titled debut by The Drums seems like an awful long time ago already. However, it’s actually only been a year since that release and in that time, they’ve managed to pick up as many critics as they have fans, lose a band member and record their new album Portamento. Considering that bands often take years to release their second album, it comes as a refreshing change that The Drums have enough confidence and ideas to release a new album in such a short period of time.
Or at least, that is, until you play this record. Opening track ‘Book Of Revelation’, is in fact no revelation whatsoever, picking up where they left off and sounding not too dissimilar to fan favourite ‘Book Of Stories’. But herein lies the problem – the sense of familiarity becomes overbearing far too quickly. In fact, the first six songs on this album sound virtually identical, so much so that it becomes painfully clear that this is a rushed release. If you’re already a fan, you may well be enticed once again by their trademark sound and retro basslines, but the lack of growth here is startling.
There are some positives though. Even their harshest critics would find it difficult to criticise the band’s lush harmonies (although it probably says a lot about a record when the backing vocals are one of the only saving graces). When they do decide to try something a bit different, they do actually succeed. ‘Searching For Heaven’ acts as the centrepiece of the album, with a sparse, cold synth that proves that when they bother to, The Drums can live up to the hype.
Sadly, the energy, naivety and sense of fun that defined their debut EP and record are all totally absent here. Nearly every song is indistinguishable from the next, to the point that it sounds like they’re playing the same song over and over again. The fact that that one song is merely okay makes this an even sadder affair.
Closing with ‘How it Ended’, singer Jonathan Pierce repeats the line “I don’t know how it ended, I don’t know where you ran to, I’ll always be right here.” Well it ends as it began, with bitter disappointment. Unless they have a major rethink next time around, The Drums will definitely not be here for much longer.
From Craig Jones.